Friday, March 6, 2015

John O. Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency: “I’ve never seen a time when we have been confronted with such an array of very challenging, complex and serious threats to our national security, and issues that we have to grapple with." - Major Overhaul Set for C.I.A., With Thousands to Be Reassigned | Menendez Expected to Face Federal Corruption Charges | Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine: Don’t Blame the West | Польша будет проводить подготовку украинских военных инструкторов | U.S. Plan to Train Ukraine National Guard 'on Hold'

Major Overhaul Set for C.I.A., With Thousands to Be Reassigned

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LANGLEY, Va. — John O. Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is planning to reassign thousands of undercover spies and intelligence analysts into new departments as part of a restructuring of the 67-year-old agency, a move he said would make it more successful against modern threats and crises.
Drawing from disparate sources — from the Pentagon to corporate America — Mr. Brennan’s plan would partly abandon the agency’s current structure that keeps spies and analysts separate as they target specific regions or countries. Instead, C.I.A. officers will be assigned to 10 new mission centers focused on terrorism, weapons proliferation, the Middle East and other areas with responsibility for espionage operations, intelligence analysis and covert actions.
During a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Brennan gave few specifics about how a new structure would make the C.I.A. better at spying in an era of continued terrorism, cyberspying and tumult across the Middle East. But he said the current structure of having undercover spies and analysts cloistered separately — with little interaction and answering to different bosses — was anachronistic given the myriad global issues the agency faces.
“I’ve never seen a time when we have been confronted with such an array of very challenging, complex and serious threats to our national security, and issues that we have to grapple with,” he said.
One model for the new divisions is the agency’s Counterterrorism Center, an amalgam of undercover spies and analysts charged with hunting, and often killing, militant suspects across the globe. Once a small, occasionally neglected office in the C.I.A., the Counterterrorism Center has grown into a behemoth with thousands of officers since the Sept. 11 attacks as the C.I.A. has taken charge of a number of secret wars overseas.
But Mr. Brennan also cited another model for his new plan: the American military. He said that the Defense Department’s structure of having a single military commander in charge of all operations in a particular region — the way a four-star commander runs United States Central Command — was an efficient structure that led to better accountability.
Mark M. Lowenthal, a former senior C.I.A. analyst, said that the reorganization “is not going to go down smoothly” at the agency, especially among clandestine spies who have long been able to withhold information from analysts, such as the identity of their foreign agents. “The clandestine service is very, very guarded about giving too much information about sources to the analysts,” he said.
But Mr. Lowenthal, who said he had not been briefed about the reorganization and was basing his understanding of Mr. Brennan’s plan on news accounts, said that the new mission centers could help avoid a debacle like the intelligence assessments before the Iraq war, when analysts trusted information from sources they knew little about, and who were later discredited.
During his two years as C.I.A. director, Mr. Brennan has become known for working long days but also for being loath to delegate decisions to lower levels of C.I.A. bureaucracy. During the briefing on Wednesday, he showed flashes of frustration that, under the C.I.A.’s current structure, there is not one single person in charge of — and to hold accountable for — a number of pressing issues.
He avoided citing any specific examples of how the C.I.A.’s current structure was hampering operations, and often used management jargon while describing his vision for the agency.
He spoke of wanting to “wring efficiencies” out of the system and trying to identify “seams” in the agency’s current structure that hinder the C.I.A. from adequately addressing complex problems. The C.I.A. needed to modernize even if the current system was not “broken,” he said, citing how Kodak failed to anticipate the advent of digital cameras.
Mr. Brennan said he was also adding a new directorate at the agency responsible for all of the C.I.A.’s digital operations — from cyberespionage to data warehousing and analysis.
Mr. Brennan discussed his plans with reporters on the condition that nothing be made public until he met with C.I.A. employees to discuss the new structure. That meeting took place on Friday.
While adding the new digital directorate, Mr. Brennan chose not to scuttle the C.I.A.’s four traditional directorates sitting at the top of the bureaucracy — those in charge of clandestine operations, intelligence analysis, science and technology research, and personnel support.
The C.I.A.’s clandestine service, the cadre of undercover spies known for decades as the Directorate of Operations and in recent years renamed the National Clandestine Service, will get its original name back under Mr. Brennan’s plan.
Amy Zegart, an intelligence expert at Stanford University, said that the C.I.A. risked being drawn further into the daily churn of events rather than focusing on “over-the-horizon threats” at a time when the C.I.A. has already come under criticism for paying little attention to long-term trends.
For his part, Mr. Brennan said this was the very thing he was trying to avoid — reacting to the world’s crises and not giving policy makers sufficient warning before they happened.
“I don’t want to just be part of an agency that reports on the world’s fires, and the collapse of various countries and systems,” he said.
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Menendez Expected to Face Federal Corruption Charges

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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department expects to file corruption charges against Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, a law enforcement official said Friday, culminating an investigation that has dogged the senator for two years.
The investigation has focused on his relationship with a Florida eye doctor who is a longtime friend and political benefactor. Federal prosecutors said Mr. Menendez did political favors for the doctor, Salomon Melgen.
A lawyer for Mr. Menendez did not immediately return a message seeking comment, but the senator and his lawyers have adamantly denied that Mr. Menendez did anything improper.
The expected charges, which were first reported by CNN, are expected in the next few weeks, the official said.
The investigation began with a tip — unproven and vehemently disputed by Mr. Menendez — that Dr. Melgen had helped pay for underage prostitutes for Mr. Menendez in the Dominican Republic. The women who made the accusations ultimately recanted, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation continued its inquiry.
The scrutiny shifted to the senator’s relationship with Dr. Melgen and whether he traded gifts for official duties, and federal agents raided Dr. Melgen’s offices. Both men have denied doing anything improper.
The Justice Department is looking in particular at whether Mr. Menendez improperly tried to persuade Medicare to change its reimbursement policies in a way that would make millions of dollars for Dr. Melgen.
Dr. Melgen was in the midst of a billing dispute with the government over his reimbursement for Lucentis, a costly medication used to treat macular degeneration. Mr. Menendez has acknowledged urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to change its reimbursement policy but said he considered the policy unfair.
“The bottom line is, we raised concerns with C.M.S. over policy and over ambiguities that are difficult for medical providers to understand and to seek a clarification of that and to make sure, in doing so, providers would understand how to attain themselves,” Mr. Menendez told The Associated Press in 2013.
His lawyers have also told the government that the discussions were part of the normal lawmaking process and were shielded from prosecution under the Constitution.
The case will most likely involve a legal fight over when a senator’s activities are shielded from prosecution under the Constitution’s speech-or-debate privilege, which prohibits federal agents from using their law enforcement powers to interfere with the lawmaking.
The Justice Department and Congress have often battled over how broadly that protection should be administered. Prosecutors say it applies only to the writing of laws and to remarks made in Congress.
Mr. Menendez’s lawyers are expected to argue that meeting with constituents and talking to agency leaders is part of how a bill is written and Mr. Menendez cannot be prosecuted for it. Some of his staff members have refused to talk to investigators, citing that constitutional privilege.
Court papers that were mistakenly and briefly unsealed last week indicated that a grand jury in New Jersey is looking into gifts that Dr. Melgen gave Mr. Menendez, in addition to the Medicare issue, and to a deal Dr. Melgen had to sell port screening equipment to the government of the Dominican Republic.
The New Jersey Law Journal wrote about the documents last week after finding them briefly unsealed. According to the documents reported in the Law Journal, the government alleges that the senator lobbied on behalf of Dr. Melgen in meetings and phone calls in the summer of 2012 with Marilyn Tavenner, who was then the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The government also claims that later that year, Mr. Menendez, along with Senator Harry Reid, then the leader of the Democratic majority, advocated for Dr. Melgen in meetings with Kathleen E. Sebelius, then the secretary of health and humans services.
Citing the appeals court ruling, the journal reported that the government alleges that Mr. Menendez’s former chief counsel, Kerri Talbot, sent an email to a staff member at the United States Customs and Border Protection requesting that the agency withhold donating used screening equipment to the Dominican Republic, therefore clearing the way for a company controlled by Dr. Melgen to sell its equipment to the country.
Tricia Enright, a spokeswoman for the senator, disputed the last allegation Friday, saying that Ms. Talbot simply requested a meeting with the agency.
Ms. Enright said Mr. Menendez believed he had behaved lawfully and that “the facts will ultimately confirm that. Any actions taken by Senator Menendez or his office have been to appropriately address public policy issues and not for any other reason.”
She said that Mr. Menendez and Dr. Melgen have been friends for years, offering a reason for Mr. Menendez to accept gifts. “The two have spent holidays together and have gone to each other’s family funerals and weddings and have exchanged personal gifts,” Ms. Enright said.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder, watching a Town Hall event on Friday with President Obama at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., was approached by a reporter and asked about the reports that he had authorized federal corruption charges against Mr. Menendez. Mr. Holder said only, “I can’t comment on that.”
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Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine: Don’t Blame the West

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2015-03-06T173434Z_1754767284_GM1EB37049701_RTRMADP_3_UKRAINE-CRISIS (1)
Opinion
The West always was—and remains—cool about Ukraine’s ambition to join NATO. Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
Much Western thinking about the causes of the Russo-Ukrainian War is rooted in a myth. It posits that the West—or, more specifically, NATO—attempted to wrest Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence, thereby forcing Vladimir Putin to defend Russia’s legitimate strategic interests by going to war with Ukraine.
The logic is impeccable. The only problem is that there isn’t a shred of truth to this claim.
Was the West determined to integrate Ukraine into its institutions? Until the Maidan Revolution broke out in late 2013, Ukraine “fatigue” had characterized Western policy since about 2008, when the government of then-president Viktor Yushchenko lost the reformist zeal it had inherited from the 2004 Orange Revolution.
Even before that, Western policymakers never talked of including Ukraine in the European Union. Indeed, the EU’s Eastern Partnership program and its offer of an Association Agreement to Kyiv were supposed to placate Ukraine without promising it even the distant prospect of membership in the EU. The reluctance to offer that prospect remains unchanged.
Has NATO Been Active—or Passive?
Was the West determined to transform Ukraine into a pro-Western democracy? The United States and Europe pumped several billions of dollars into Ukrainian civil society projects since 1991, while remaining indifferent to the Leonid Kuchma regime’s slide toward authoritarianism in the late 1990s, the abandonment by Yushchenko’s “Orange government” of its democratic reform agenda and Viktor Yanukovych’s establishment of a full-fledged authoritarian regime in 2010-2013.
Some Western policymakers supported the Maidan Revolution rhetorically and insisted that Yanukovych seek a compromise with the democratic revolutionaries; but most did not. No Western state actually provided any material assistance to the Maidan.
And no Western presidents or prime ministers called on Yanukovych to step down during the revolution: Quite the contrary, they traveled to Kiev in late February 2014 with the express purpose of saving him. Once he abandoned his office, many Western policymakers welcomed his move—but that was after, and not before, the fact.
Did NATO ever push Ukraine to join the alliance? The answer is no. And for good reason: It was (and still is) unready to make the commitment, under its Article 5, to rush to Ukraine’s assistance in case of an attack by Russia.
Three months after the Yushchenko government formally requested a “membership action plan” as a first step toward joining NATO, the alliance’s North Atlantic Council in April 2008 issued the vaguest “welcome” possible of “Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership.” While NATO declined to repudiate the Open Door principle it had declared a decade earlier (with the less vulnerable and more viable Poland and Czech Republic in mind), it also dampened the Yushchenko government’s ardor, declining to issue the requested membership plan and promising instead to talk about it.
Did Ukraine ever come close to joining NATO? Of course not.
The alliance’s polite and vague 2008 “welcome” effectively slow-walked the idea until, two years later, Yanukovych won election in Ukraine. He quickly reduced Kiev’s stated ambition from “membership” to a maintenance of its existing “partnership” with NATO. The alliance just as quickly agreed, and Ukraine’s relationship with NATO disappeared altogether from Kiev’s policy agenda.
Public opinion surveys in Ukraine consistently showed that no more than a fifth of the population ever desired NATO membership. That changed only after the outbreak of Russia’s war with Ukraine in 2014, when the percentage of NATO supporters quickly exceeded half.
Putin's Real Motive
Did Putin seize the Crimea because of the West’s desire to transform Ukraine into its bastion? From the start, Putin has explained the seizure in terms of some putative need to protect Russians from the “fascist junta” in Kiev and to bring “sacred” Russian territory back into the fold. He began invoking the Western threat only after war with Ukraine had broken out and the West chose to support Kiev.
The fact is that Putin unleashed war against Ukraine for the same reasons that Saddam Hussein unleashed war against revolutionary Iran in 1980: to prevent revolutionary contagion, to punish the revolutionaries and to take advantage of their weakness to make territorial gains.
Supporters of the view that NATO enlargement provoked Russia are right about one thing. Enlarging NATO in 2004, just as Putin was consolidating his authoritarian regime and developing visions of imperial expansion, created an impossible security conundrum for Ukraine. NATO enlargement effectively sent Russia an unmistakably strong signal: that Ukraine was outside the West’s security interests and thus was fair game for Russia.
The West’s deep and long-lasting indifference to Ukraine’s security—and, in 2008, to Georgia’s security—encouraged Putin’s aggression. By the same token, the West’s commitment to Ukraine’s security—whether by means of economic or military assistance or both—can only discourage Putin’s aggression, by conveying to him in no uncertain terms that Ukraine matters to the West.
Alexander J. Motyl is a professor of political science at Rutgers University-Newark, specializing on Ukraine, Russia, and the former USSR. This article first appeared on the Atlantic Council website.
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Польша будет проводить подготовку украинских военных инструкторов

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Польша поможет Украине в подготовке военных офицеров и консультантов
Глава СНБО Украины Александр Турчинов и премьер-министр Польши Эва Копач (Варшава, 6 марта 2015 года)

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Опубликовано 07.03.2015 00:26
Об этом в пятницу заявила пресс-секретарь польского правительства Малгожата Кидава-Блоньска после переговоров в Варшаве между польским премьер-министром Эвой Копач и главой Совета национальной безопасности и обороны Украины Александром Турчиновым.
На прошлой неделе Польша и Великобритания не исключили, что направят на Украину небольшие группы военных консультантов для оказания помощи в подготовке украинских офицеров.
Метки: польша,украина,Варшава,Турчинов,копач

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U.S. Plan to Train Ukraine National Guard 'on Hold'

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WASHINGTON — A U.S. plan to train Ukrainian national guard troops is "on hold" pending implementation of a ceasefire deal between government troops and Russian-backed rebels, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Europe said on Friday.
The training mission, first announced in August last year, had been due to start this month. One battalion of U.S. soldiers is due to train three Ukrainian National Guard battalions.
A U.S. military official, speaking to Reuters on Friday on condition of anonymity, said the training mission had not yet been finalised.
Later on Friday, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Europe, confirmed the delay in a statement and said: "The U.S. government would like to see the Minsk agreement fulfilled."
"The training mission is currently on hold but Army Europe is prepared to carry out the mission if and when our government decides to move forward," the statement said.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington and Wiktor Szary in Warsaw; Editing by Tom Heneghan)